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Tomatoes: Tomatillos?

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daves_not_here
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9b)

April 18, 2012
6:05 PM

Post #9088138

I've done a lot of reading on tomatillos in the past two days. Finding little bits of information on reseeding, growing, time to harvest, and even a good enchilada recipe. (I love New Mexican cuisine.)

I have failed the past two years to produce a crop of tomatillos. I have a limited growing area, and have always started from plants from HD. Bonnie Farms sells peat pots planted with tomatillos. I know they are expensive, but with as small a growing space as I have, the total doesn't come to much.

Even from what I've read, I still don't have an answer for my lack of production. It wasn't a solitary plant issue. Bonnie always plants two per pot. Possibly to overcome the self-infertile issue. Also, on their website, they say to plant 2/3 of the stem under ground as you would a tomato. Three years ago, In San Diego, I had a potted garden. The tomatillos grew supported in a cage to a nice sized plant. It bloomed, fruit set, and the largest of the husks grew to golfball size. The fruit only ever got the size of a small marble. Last year, now in Las Vegas and growing in the ground, same thing. Maybe last year some got to the size of a large marble. Though none ever came close to splitting the husk, even with waiting till first frost to hopefully get something that looked eatable.

Last year I started my garden by digging down 18 inches, sifted out anything larger than a quarter inch and mixed the remainder 50/50 with Kellog brand Amend from HD. It compacted some over the past year. To fill it up again I added year old compost from the pile I'd started the previous spring. Tilling it into the top four inches or so. I also added 50/50 sifted native/Amend. Then topped with mulch. This year I'm starting with two solitary plants from a local nursery. They are taller and more robust than the Bonnie Farms option. I planted them 2/3 deep, two feet apart, and cages are already in place.

Three years ago I fertilized with Vigoro, Tomato & Vegetable at 12-10-5. Last year I used Kellog Organic, Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb at 4-6-3 every two months. And Alaska fish emulsion at 5-1-1 every three weeks. I planned on using the same fertilizing regiment I used last year. Everything else in the garden produced just fine. Assorted tomatoes, assorted peppers, and onions were all fine.

I'm hoping for some advice this year. The help in local garden centers is often noncommittal. I was thinking of using some bone meal this year. I don't want to do the same as last year and hope for different results. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

I'm posting this in Beginner Gardening Questions and Tomato forums. If you see both, answer to either one.Thanks

David
CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL
(Zone 7a)

April 18, 2012
7:59 PM

Post #9088292

yes ,,,higher phosphorus might do the trick...bone meal.
If you are not strictly organic, you can try the Miracle grow bloom booster or tomato grower..
I use both organic amenders and commercial fertilizers on everything I grow but this is my first year growing tomatillos.
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

April 18, 2012
8:38 PM

Post #9088345

Dave, They grow very easily and cheaply down in Mexico where the growing seasons are so long. Have you checked to see if they do well as far North as you are? They may just need more time to fully grow out.

Ernie
Ozark
Ozark, MO
(Zone 6a)

April 18, 2012
10:08 PM

Post #9088403

daves_not_here - I wonder if you're being TOO good to your tomatillos and also maybe putting them out a little early. I grow lots of them every year here in MO, and we're a little further north than L.V., so that's not the problem.

Tomatillos are pretty much a weed. I've read that they traditionally weren't planted or cultivated in Mexico, at first they were just a weed that came up in the corn fields and the fruits were found to be good in salsas. They self-seed, prolifically, and once you've got 'em, you've got 'em. Every spring about a thousand of them come up as volunteers in my garden and I transplant a few to where I want them and till the rest under - I haven't bought any tomatillo seeds for at least ten years. As a "weed" they're not a problem, they've very easy to pull up or till under, and they transplant easily.

One thing I'd suggest is to quit buying tomatillo plants, get a pack of seeds, and sow them directly where you want them outdoors. They grow so quickly and easily from seeds, there's no need at all to start with seedlings. They're definitely a warm weather plant, and I know nights in L.V. can be cool until you really get into summer, so I wouldn't sow the seeds until May or even the first of June - they'll catch up. The plants are leggy and brittle and need support, but they're about as easy to grow as crabgrass. Quit being so nice to them - they'll like your hot summers if you keep them watered and other than that, they thrive on neglect. lol
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

April 19, 2012
7:11 AM

Post #9088700

Dave,

If you have not already seen this Purdue report on the Tomatillo, it does seem to pretty well cover the subject.
Ernie

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/mexican_husk_tomato.html#Origin and Distribution
CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL
(Zone 7a)

April 19, 2012
7:57 AM

Post #9088776

that was nice reading Ernie.


husk maters are wild in my zone too but for some reason I have not seen any on my property. There will be soon.
daves_not_here
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9b)

April 19, 2012
9:53 AM

Post #9088887

Yes, that was good reading.

Thanks for all the responses. I was hoping you would see this Ozark. I read some threads from '08 and knew you grew them with great success. I'll try from seed too at the suggested time and check the results from both plantings. The only other place I have though, is being saved for pumpkins. I did try some asparagus from bulbs(?) early this year and didn't see any results. Am I correct in thinking they can stay in the ground and will produce more next year? Also can I plant the tomatillo seeds in the same area while the asparagus is out of season? The area is in a different plot and will be easier to neglect. Mmwaahaha Except for water of course. Everything is on drip, with a timer. Emitters and duration can be changed as needed.

My last concern is the alkalinity of the soil here. It may not be as much of an issue, as I have brought in a lot of non-native amendments. I know I should have the soil tested at the local agg extension office. I've just been lazy. Are the testers available at garden centers accurate?

So it won't be a perfect experiment as there will be multiple different variables. I'll grow the transplants as planned with the extra phosphorus. And I'll grow the seeds with the extra neglect. That'll be tough though as I'm such a swell guy. lol I like to give.

I'll keep you posted on my, or rather the tomatillos, progress.

Thanks again! David
CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL
(Zone 7a)

April 20, 2012
1:22 PM

Post #9090533

Everything I ever read or heard said tomatillos were "related" to tomatoes.

Any-who...since I am on a tomatillo quest...I found lots of info at
http:/./www.tomatoville.com
http://www.tomatoville.com/forumdisplay.php?f=78
I am tempted to grow them in earthboxes...undecided.

Happy Gardening

Doug9345
Durhamville, NY
(Zone 5b)

April 20, 2012
5:55 PM

Post #9090887

[quote="daves_not_here"]Yes, that was good reading.

I did try some asparagus from bulbs(?) early this year and didn't see any results. Am I correct in thinking they can stay in the ground and will produce more next year? [/quote]

Usually referred to as roots. They must stay in the ground. Asparagus is usually three years old before you can start harvesting it. The bed once established should last decades. No you can't plant other things in the asparagus bed because the asparagus ferns need to grow to provide food to the plant for the next season.


[quote]
My last concern is the alkalinity of the soil here. It may not be as much of an issue, as I have brought in a lot of non-native amendments. I know I should have the soil tested at the local agg extension office. I've just been lazy. Are the testers available at garden centers accurate?[/quote]

My reading says no.








This message was edited Apr 21, 2012 9:08 AM
ERNIECOPP
Vista, CA

April 20, 2012
6:42 PM

Post #9090948

I have read several times on this forum that you should not harvest asparagus from a new bed for several years, and that probably holds true for commercial farms, but i have had successful beds both in Idaho and CA after harvesting the spears that are 3/8ths inch or bigger from the very first. As Spring progresses, there will be fewer of the collectible size, and the smaller ones, of course, should be left to turn into ferns and they will keep growing until a good frost.

I planted here last Spring and had a few meals from the bed last year, and this year we have harvested all we wanted this Spring, and still getting plenty. I keep thinking the large spears will stop coming up, but i keep being proved wrong. Some volunteer seedlings have come up this year that i am leaving, and none of those have been big enough to eat this year.

Bottom line, i would say if they are big enough, eat them, and the smaller ones will build the bed.

Ernie
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 20, 2012
6:52 PM

Post #9090965

Cricket-tomatillos are realated to tomatoes as they are both in the Nightshade Family. However, they are basically weeds. Personally, I wouldnt waste the space of an EB on them. The only thing I know they need for sure is heat.

Ive grown asparagus in the same bed for about 10 years. My soil is also very Alkaline (limestone) but I add alot of Organic Material and they seem to do fine. I think the rootstock (?) I bought was 3 yrs old when I received it. Usually I just eat it raw.
CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL
(Zone 7a)

April 20, 2012
8:03 PM

Post #9091041

Tomatoes use to be a poisonous weed too. Amazing how things turn out. I love reading the history on fruits and veggies. I have decided to just grow them in the garden. Purple on one end and green on the other end. 70ft apart.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 20, 2012
9:45 PM

Post #9091117

They do have very different growth habits. Potatoes are in the Nightshade Family too so even tho they are in the same Family the can be very different. I love reading about the plant lore, too. lol

Why are you growing them so far apart? Do you care if they cross pollinate?
CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL
(Zone 7a)

April 21, 2012
6:18 AM

Post #9091348

Yes mam. I want to save seed.
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 21, 2012
8:04 AM

Post #9091466

When you call me that I feel 1000 yrs old. LOL
Ozark
Ozark, MO
(Zone 6a)

April 21, 2012
8:09 AM

Post #9091471

Yes, the varieties will cross easily - and it's not so much a question of saving seeds as of them self-seeding. As I've said, I haven't bought tomatillo seeds for at least ten years as volunteers pop up all over my garden every spring. Back in the 1990's when I was buying seeds, I sowed at least two different varieties of tomatillos in different years, maybe three. I know I grew the purple ones and the regular light green ones that ripen to yellow. I think I remember mail ordering seeds of a third variety that was supposed to bear large fruits.

The result is that now my volunteer tomatillos are some kind of mixture - light green ripening to yellow with purple stripes and highlights. Not a bad thing, I guess.
CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL
(Zone 7a)

April 21, 2012
9:21 AM

Post #9091588

I was raised to say mam and sir or I got slapped. It's a habbit.
Ozark
Ozark, MO
(Zone 6a)

April 21, 2012
7:48 PM

Post #9092281

A real nice lady friend of ours is a retired U.S. Army master sergeant. Young recruits sometimes didn't know to call her "sergeant" (which was correct), didn't want to call her "sir", and once in awhile one would call her "ma'am". When that happened, she'd add to the whole company's stress factor by yelling:

"Ma'am? MA'AM? DO I LOOK TO YOU LIKE I'M WEARING A #@*%& FEATHER BOA?"

Hehe. Like me, she's a big believer in making her own fun. :>)

BajaBlue

BajaBlue
Rancho Santa Rita, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 21, 2012
7:56 PM

Post #9092299

ozark tks for makin me
chuckle out loud

I needed it
1lisac
Liberty Hill, TX
(Zone 8a)

April 21, 2012
8:17 PM

Post #9092318

I can definately say I AM NOT WEARING A #%*@& BOA. lol
CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL
(Zone 7a)

April 22, 2012
5:39 AM

Post #9092523

whats a feathered boa?
Doug9345
Durhamville, NY
(Zone 5b)

April 22, 2012
8:01 AM

Post #9092668

http://www.thisnext.com/item/16A60E74/Buy-Feather-Boa-Fuchsia

Not all the pictures I found were appropriate for Davesgarden.
samthehavanese
Mohrsville, PA
(Zone 6a)

April 22, 2012
8:16 AM

Post #9092684

[quote="CricketsGarden"]whats a feathered boa?[/quote]

A flying snake?
CricketsGarden
Nauvoo, AL
(Zone 7a)

April 22, 2012
7:20 PM

Post #9093533

LOL sam

OHHHHHHH a feathered scarf...so to speak.
daves_not_here
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9b)

April 22, 2012
10:26 PM

Post #9093727

Yep, I guess it gets cold in Las Vegas because lots of girls wear them hear. lol
daves_not_here
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9b)

December 14, 2012
11:13 AM

Post #9358137

Well, it looks like I might get a small harvest of tomatillos this year. One has even grown large enough to split the husk! There are some others that may split husks if frost holds off a little longer.

I believe the problem last year was a short amount of time between our scorching hot summer temps and our first frost. The plants grow well in the heat of the summer, but no fruit will set until temps start to cool a little. Tomatillos are described as attracting bees, though the bees also didn't arrive till temps cooled. At the same time our honeysuckle started to bloom proficiently, and was attracting bees as well. This year, in the part of town where I live, we have yet to have any frost. Until a week ago we were having unseasonably worm weather with overnight lows 10 above average.

Of course, now that the tomatillos are ripening, our Serrano peppers have stopped producing. I will have to buy some from the store to make any salsa. That's how it goes.:)

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